Jesus portrait art work

June 30, 2012 by  
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The gentleman who drew this is Joe Castillo.

He went to Asbury Theological Seminary.

He did this during a chapel service. It was fascinating – he told the Gospel story – each part of Jesus’ life –and he was drawing the story as he told the story.

People didn’t realize until the end what the entire picture was.

A rare talent!!!

The rolled away stone of the empty tomb corresponds nicely to where the ear would be, and the stars in the eyes provide a sense of scale for the Star of Bethlehem, which is tucked into the shadow of the nose. The favourite touch is using the Sea of Galilee and its mountain backdrop for the right eyebrow.

Here’s a key to the events depicted, along with each corresponding Bible verse.

– fwd: menino martis

Barnabas educates over 7,700 persecuted Christian youngsters *Kuwait leader rejects death sentence

June 30, 2012 by  
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World, June 28, 2012: An incident in which a Sri Lankan Christian school boy was severely beaten by a Buddhist monk when he professed his faith in the classroom highlights the ongoing need for Christian youngsters living in contexts of persecution to be educated in Christian schools.

Amila Tharanga Thilakaratne (14) was left bleeding from the ear after the assault at his school in Kandy district. Only Buddhism is taught in the school and Amila is the only non-Buddhist in his class. He and his older brother Gashan, who attends the same school, are discriminated against because of their Christian faith.

On 11 June, a Buddhist monk came to Amila’s class to teach the children about Buddhism. The monk forced him to sit at the front and recite the names of the Buddha’s parents. When Amila replied that he was a Christian, the monk said that he should nevertheless learn Buddhist teachings before severely assaulting the school boy. He received no medical treatment and was warned by the monk and another teacher not to tell anyone about the assault.

Amila was too afraid to tell his parents about the incident so went straight to bed after school. But when he began to vomit later that evening, his father asked what had happened and Amila revealed all.

Mr Thilakaratne took his son to hospital the next morning and, despite being threatened with further violence by the monk if he reported the incident to the authorities, filed a complaint with the police. An investigation is yet to be initiated and Mr Thilakaratne fears that no action will be taken against the monk. He is also concerned that Amila may be expelled from the school for reporting the matter.

Many Christian children like Amila, who live in places where Christians are a despised minority, face hostility, injustice and even violence on account of their faith at state schools. The majority religion may be strongly promoted and the Christian youngsters are often put under pressure to convert. They are sometimes deliberately failed in exams, destroying their employment prospects and keeping them trapped in poverty. Christian parents are often too poor to send their children to privately-run Christian schools. Sometimes they are too poor to send them to any school at all.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

Sadly what happened to Amila is all too typical of the persecution Christian youngsters experience at school. These vulnerable little brothers and sisters need particular protection and support as they grow up to become their country’s next generation of believers and church leaders. It is a great privilege for Barnabas Fund to be able to give them the best possible start in their young Christian lives.

Barnabas Fund is helping by supporting Christian schools and education projects in eight countries including parts of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Over 7,700 persecuted Christian children are therefore able to receive a good education in a nurturing Christian environment where they are encouraged in their faith.

On average it costs just £18 (US$29) per month to support a child in school. Sponsors who give regularly will receive a card with a photo and personal information about one Christian child and a twice-yearly newsletter about the project.

– barnabas team

Kuwait leader rejects death sentence


Kuwait, June 28, 2012: Kuwait’s ruler has refused to pass a bill previously voted through by parliament that would allow Muslims who insult Islam to be put to death and would harshly penalize Christians and other non-Muslims.

The bill seeking to institute the death penalty for Muslims who insult Allah, the Qu’ran, Muslim prophets or Muhammad’s wives was passed with an overwhelming majority last May, and it stipulates that Christians and other non-Muslims will be given a minimum sentence of 10 years for the same offense.

Kuwait’s leader has the power to refuse the bill, but the elected parliament can overturn his decision with a two-thirds majority vote.

Praise God that this bill has not been approved. Please pray that the Emir’s decision will win the support of parliament and that this unjust law will not be passed. Pray that those who oppress Christians may experience repentance and salvation, just as Paul did (Acts 9:1-19).

– icc

Palestinians push Nativity church as Heritage site

June 30, 2012 by  
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Palestine, June 23, 2012: The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is becoming the church of contention, with a bid by the Palestinians to use their position as the newest members of the U.N.’s cultural arm to obtain World Heritage status for the iconic Christian site — and perhaps boost their own campaign for legitimacy.

The effort by the Palestinian Authority, like its overall efforts for global recognition for an independent Palestinian state, is drawing resistance. And it may fail at the World Heritage Committee meeting that starts Sunday.

An experts committee has turned down the emergency bid to quickly confer on the Church of the Nativity, and its pilgrimage route, the status as an endangered World Heritage site, saying the application needs more work. Even custodians of the holy site, the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian churches are opposed, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

The church — which drew some 2 million visitors last year and parts of which are 1,500 years old — stands above the grotto that Christians believe was the birthplace of Jesus. The Palestinians’ application asks for recognition as a site of “outstanding universal value” urgently in need of attention.

There is concern by the United States and others that the Bethlehem holy site and the integrity of the World Heritage process risk falling victim to the politics that for decades have torn the region asunder, with the Palestinians using their foothold in the U.N. system to grab symbolic recognition of their elusive bid for statehood in a long-disputed land.

The World Heritage candidacy of the Church of the Nativity and the pilgrimage route is one way for the Palestinians to prove they are responsible stewards of the site which draws tourists the world over. Above all, it is part of a broader attempt by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek international recognition for a state of Palestine after its controversial backdoor entry into the U.N. system.

Negotiations with Israel on the terms of a Palestinian state have been frozen since 2008, mainly because Abbas and Israel’s hardline prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have failed to reach enough common ground for meaningful talks.

Meantime, Abbas has tried to create new leverage, including with a quest for U.N. membership for a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel occupied in 1967. The U.N. bid has been stalled for months, but Abbas hopes to garner recognition for Palestine wherever possible, including with a nod from UNESCO for Bethlehem.

Angry at Palestinian membership in UNESCO, the United States pulled its $80 million in annual dues — 22 percent of the overall budget — from the Paris-based organization after the October vote that made the Palestinians the 195th member.

Bucking the bad feedback, the Palestinians refused to follow UNESCO custom and withdraw the candidacy — as the French did with their emergency bid for the Chauvet cave, with its hundreds of prehistoric drawings, when it got a negative recommendation from the experts.

The Palestinians now risk losing face at the World Heritage Committee meeting from Sunday until July 6 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, when 33 sites from around the world will be considered for the coveted World Heritage status.

A surprise thumbs up could feed rancor and rivalries in a volatile region, within the church itself and perhaps at the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Already, the Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, Elias Sanbar, has denounced a “persistent campaign of rumors” at the organization.

Protecting the cultures of the world is among UNESCO’s core missions and there is little doubt the Church of the Nativity — with a longstanding problem of leaks from the roof — is in need of repair. A program administered by the Palestinians is already in progress.

Located in the Israeli-controlled West Bank, it is managed by three churches, each jealous of its role as custodian of the site, defined under an agreement dating back to the Ottoman Empire.

With a big measure of diplomacy, the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian churches rebuffed the Palestinian proposal, politely reserving judgment on its reasons.

“In our opinion, we do not think it opportune to deal with this request that the Basilica and its entire complex be included in the list of World Heritage sites, due to different considerations,” read a letter to Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas signed by the three leaders. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

Among other things, a World Heritage designation raises fears that the delicate arrangement of custodianship might be disturbed. Fights among priests using broomsticks have been known to break out in the past over a perception that boundaries are being overstepped.

“When it comes to the Church of the Nativity, no one can interfere,” said Yousef Daher of the World Council of Churches in Jerusalem. “They (the Palestinian Authority) figured it wrong.” He called the Palestinian bid a “surprising request.”

“A church is a church, it shouldn’t become a world heritage. It’s a sacred place and its ownership is not for anyone,” Daher said.

The Palestinian emergency application cites lack of regular restoration on the church due to the political situation since 1967 when Israel occupied the territories and difficulties procuring equipment because of lack of free movement imposed by Israeli forces.

Though Israel captured the West Bank, it turned much of Bethlehem over to the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s.

The U.S. State Department did not hide its disapproval of the Palestinians’ emergency bid.

“We are disappointed by the Palestinians’ intention to push through an emergency inscription against the recommendation of UNESCO’s own experts and without thoroughly consulting all stakeholders,” a statement said. It made clear that Washington’s objection stems from the rush job that an emergency candidacy implies and which prevents a full review including by those with a stake in the outcome.

“We hope the Committee will act responsibly as good stewards of the World Heritage Convention, rather than allowing yet another U.N. forum to become a victim of politicization,” the U.S. statement said. “The site is sacred to all Christians.”

An experts report, conducted for UNESCO by the Rome-based International Council on Monuments and Sites, which reviews all applications, concluded that the Palestinians failed to show that damage or dangers to the Church of the Nativity “make its condition an emergency that needs to be addressed … for immediate action necessary for the survival of the property.”

It suggests the application be resubmitted under normal procedures with fuller detail. That takes about 18 months, meaning it could be re-nominated in 2014.

“Palestinians are continuing with their bid, and they are still hopeful and optimistic that they will succeed,” said Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib. He declined to elaborate.

The Palestinian delegation to UNESCO refused any comment until after the Saint Petersburg meeting. However, a letter circulating among delegations suggested a plot was afoot.

In a letter, Ambassador Sanbar denounced a campaign of pressure against the bid from “those who do not want to see Palestine exercise its legitimate rights.”

The June 11 letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, included what is purported to be a statement of support for Palestinian leader Abbas signed in type by the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox leaders, noting the Armenian was absent.

That letter “gave some delegations the impression that the churches had changed their opinion and were no longer opposed to the inscription,” said one UNESCO official. “Was it designed for that purpose? I don’t know.”

The official asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity surrounding the Palestinian bid.

Despite fears by some that Palestinian backers on the committee will win the church the emergency designation as an endangered World Heritage site, others say it would be highly unusual for the voting committee to ignore the experts’ negative recommendation.

“The committee is a sovereign body. Experts are there to give expert advice that is usually taken on board,” said UNESCO spokeswoman Sue Williams.

Win or lose, the Palestinians are looking to putting their mark on other sites under their purview, including historic Bethlehem.

That gets a green light from the custodial churches at the Nativity — as long as the church itself stays off limits.

– the associated press

NRI organizations asked to protest 12.36% service tax on remittances

June 30, 2012 by  
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IKFS President Dr. Ghalib Al-Mashoor

India, June 28, 2012: Indo-Kuwait Friendship Society (IKFS), an organization of NRIs in Kuwait has registered strongly its protest on India’s plan to charge 12.36% on all foreign remittances to India.

IKFS President Dr. Ghalib Al-Mashoor said that there is no justifications to levy this tax on the money of the hard working Indians working all over the world. This tax will hurt labourers or semi-skilled workers who unable to find jobs at home go overseas to provide for their families.

In a statement issued by IKFS it pointed out that no other country tax the remittances sent home.

Recently MP Shashi Tharoor has also written a letter to the Prime Minister asking for this proposed tax be put on hold.

Non-resident Indians numbering about 7 million transfer more than US $64.0 Billion annually to dependents back home.

According to estimates states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab depend heavily on international remittances. The share of NRI remittance in the State’s Net Domestic Product is about 31% in Kerala, 13% in Punjab and 7% in Tamil Nadu. The remittances provide social security to the dependent families, help them meet basic necessities of life, education and improve their standard of living.

IKFS called all NRI organizations to protest against this service tax.

– tcn

Two Indian laymen placed on sainthood road

June 30, 2012 by  
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New Delhi, June 30, 2012: Devasahayam Pillai and Puthenparampil Thommachan are the only lay people from India being considered for sainthood.

In a historic move, Pope Benedict XVI yesterday put two Indian Catholic laymen on a fast track to sainthood.

The Pontiff recognized Devasahayam Pillai, an 18th century Hindu convert to Catholicism in Tamil Nadu, as a martyr for faith and made him a venerable, the second stage in the Catholic Church’s four-tier canonization process.

On the same day, the pope named Puthenparampil Thommachan of neighboring Kerala state, as a Servant of God, the initial stage where Rome gives green signal to start the process.

Pillai and Thommachan are the only lay people from India being considered for sainthood. Six nuns and priests have reached the third stage, where a candidate is declared blessed.

Only two Indians have reached sainthood – Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, a Franciscan Clarist nun who died in 1946 aged 36, and Gonsalo Garcia, who was martyred in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1957 at the age of 40.

Pillai, according to the Church records, was executed in 1752 for refusing to abandon his new faith.

He was killed at a place which is now under Kottar diocese Kanniyakumari district that initiated his canonization cause in 1984.

To speed up the process, the diocese in 1990 sent to Rome the case of a lame Hindu boy, who walked after seeing a vision of Pillai.

In a rare gesture ten years ago, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India endorsed his canonization cause, the first official attempt to have an Indian layperson declared a saint. It was also the first time the bishops’ conference directly took up a canonization cause.

However some historians have alleged that the Church case is based on “historical inaccuracies.” According to the Church accounts, Pillai’s conversion had upset King Marthanda Varma, who ordered his arrest and imprisonment.

Historian A. Shreedhara Menon said his studies could find no evidence of religious persecution during the king’s 29-year reign and dismissed the Church stand as a “concocted story” and “figment of imagination.”

The other candidate for sainthood, Thommachan, was the father of two in Changanacherry archdiocese and was known as the Kerala Assisi for popularizing the Franciscan Third Order in Kerala. He died in 1908 at the age 72.

He began leading a life of piety at the age of 28 and gathered a group of lay people who prayed for sinners and engaged in charitable works.

– ucan

Nitish-Modi Spat: Debating Secularism

June 30, 2012 by  
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India, June 29, 2012: Nitish Kumar in an obvious reference to opposition to Modi’s possible projection as the Prime-ministerial candidate of NDA, in the next parliamentary elections said that NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate should be one with secular credentials. His aide went on to say that Vajpayee had the intention of sacking in the wake of Gujarat carnage and the NDA lost 2004 Parliamentary elections due to the Gujarat carnage and role of Modi in the same (June 19, 2012). In response Lalu Yadav questioned Nitish as to how he Nitish continued to be part of NDA after Gujarat happened? The BJP spokesmen talked at various levels. One of them said that ideologically Vajpayee, Advani and Modi are all the same. Another one said that Hindutva is truly secular and liberal so why Modi cannot be the PM candidate. RSS Supremo Bhagwat buttressed the point by saying as to why the nation cannot have a Hindutvawadi prime minister?

With this the ever continuing debate about secularism and the nature of Hindutva is in the social space once again. One concedes that Kumar is no secular angel. When BJP came to become the largest single party in Lok Sabha in 1996, no one dared to ally with it that time as it’s communal face was starkly obvious due to its role in Babri demolition and consequent violence, which was too fresh in people’s memory. By 1998 in a similar situation many parities including Kumar’s JD (U) could not resist the temptation of power and struck some minimum common program to share power with the BJP. Though his JD (U) had a common minimum understanding with BJP, right under Kumar’s nose BJP during NDA regime communalized the polity to no end. Saffronization of text books was done and introduction of courses like Paurihitya and Hindu Rituals in the Universities being just few examples of the Hindutva agenda, were starkly visible. When the carnage broke out in 2002, Kumar was the minister for railways and in that capacity he ignored the investigation of Godhra train burning, which was mandatory as per the rules. Due to this Modi’s concoction that train burning was a preplanned act by Muslims went unchallenged for a long time. Kumar could have called Modi’s bluff that the train burning was a planned act by Muslims.

Nitish was part of the cabinet. What did he tell Vajpayee at that time one does not know, but as a secular person, his threat of pulling out from the Government would have set the house in order to a great extent. Even today, right under his nose his ally; the BJP of Bihar, is communalizing the polity. Communalism is not just communal violence. Communal violence is just the superficially visible part of the process of communalization, which aims to abolish secular space and liberal values.

Some of the statements of BJP spoke-persons are partly true also. The claim that Vajpayee, Advani, and Modi (one can add even people like Praveen Togadia, Promod Mutallik, Vinay Katiyar and the likes) are similar, is true to a great extent. They are all ideologically committed swaymsevaks, (RSS trained Cadres) working for the agenda of Hindu Rashta, the goal of RSS politics. There are dissimilarities amongst them also; there is a division of labor amongst them also. Since BJP is not hoping for coming to majority on its own strength, it has to keep a liberal façade. Precisely for this reason Vajpayee was the prime Minister, while prime mover of the chariot of communalism through Ram Temple campaign, Advani, was forced to play the second fiddle. When Vajpayee withdrew from the scene, Advani decided for the image change over and he suddenly realized the secular worth of Jinnah. It is another matter that he overplayed the game and their patriarch, RSS, decided to clip his wings and demote him. All the top brass of BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and many other RSS outfits are primarily the RSS swayamasevaks, which is too well known by now.

When the previous avatar of BJP, Jan Sangh, merged in Janata Party in the wake of lifting of emergency, the other components of Janata party, socialists in particular, demanded that the Jan Sangh members should give up their membership-affiliation with RSS. For Jan Sanghis breaking link with RSS was unthinkable and they decided to pull out from Janata Party and then they regrouped as Bharatiya Janata Party, as it is known at present. Vajpayee, in his famous address to NRI Indians in Staten Island, US, asserted that he is Swayamsevak first and anything else, PM, later.

In that sense they are on the same ideological wavelength but playing different roles at any point of time. They are communal to the core, with the agenda to work for religion based nationalism.  To say that Hindutva is secular and liberal is like putting the reality on its head. Hindutva is not Hinduism. Hinduism is an umbrella of various religious streams, which flowered and existed in this part of the world. Hindutva as a concept and political ideology started emerging during colonial period and was later popularized by Savarkar. He defined it as ‘Whole of Hinduness’, a combination of Aryan race, culture and language. In particular Hindutva is based on the Brahmanical stream of Hinduism, subtly promoting caste and gender hierarchy, reviving the feudal hierarchical system in the modern idioms.

When the whole nation was coming together on the principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the upholders of Hindutva, coming from the sections of Rajas, Jamindars and section of upper caste Hindus kept aloof from the struggle against British. They came together as Hindu Mahasabha and later founded and supported RSS.  Their politics was parallel and opposite of the politics of Muslim League, which was arguing on the similar line for an Islamic state, Pakistan. Muslim League also had base amongst the landed aristocracy, Nawabas, Jagirdars and later joined by educated elite. Hindutva stream, Hindu Mahasabha-RSS projected the glorious Hindu past and asserted we are a Hindu Nation from times immemorial. Muslim League identified with the rule of Muslim kings and traced their lineage to the first invasion of Muslim King in this part of the world. The National movement under Gandhi was for throwing away the yoke of colonial rule and for social change of caste and gender relations. It articulated that we are a Nation in the making.

Here one can see the instrumentalist use of religion by a section of society, elite, who wanted to preserve their privileges in the changing social dynamics. The sharpest articulation of Hindutva politics came from M.S. Golwalkar, who in his ‘We or our Nationhood Defined’, eulogized fascism and asked for a second class citizenship for Muslims and Christians. Today the RSS cadres unable to swallow the blunt formulation of their politics by Golwalkar deny the existence of this book. The dilemma of RSS and its progeny is to keep the democratic face till they come to a majority when they can unleash their full scale agenda. Currently also their trained swayamsevaks are infiltrating in different wings of the state, media and education apart from forming the organizations like BJP etc. So who is secular in BJP? They claim that they believe in justice for all and appeasement of none. This is a very cleverly worded sentence to hide their intention of continuing the discrimination of those suffering in the present scheme of things.

How does one understand the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva? One has to take recourse to the example of the ‘father of the nation’ to avoid the heavy academic debates. Gandhi was a Hindu but not a follower of Hindutva. Godse and the RSS tribe are the practitioners of ‘Hindutva politics’. For this politics a Hindu like Gandhi is unacceptable ideologically as he could reach the zenith of secular ethos while being the best of the Hindus! We do realize that while the statement by Nitish Kumar is a symbol of shadow boxing it also presents one of the aspects of the political reality being witnessed by the nation.

– ram puniyani

Ethics code chapter and verse for pastors

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Washington, June 25, 2012: The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule apparently weren’t clear enough.

The National Association of Evangelicals, seeking to give more guidance to church and congregational leaders on how to conduct themselves, has issued what is believed to be the first “code of ethics” for pastors.

Pastors are encouraged to pursue integrity, be trustworthy, seek purity, embrace accountability and facilitate fairness. The document, the product of an 18-month effort by a committee of religious leaders and scholars, lists ways in which basic ethical principles can be applied in a modern setting, and which all pastors should be expected to follow.

“The Bible is a long document,” said National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn. “The principles here are biblical, but they are also relevant to our time and culture. That type of specificity just isn’t in the Bible.”

The association drafted the code after a series of highly publicized lapses involving local religious figures. In 2010 alone, five pastors came under public scrutiny for cases of extramarital affairs, sexual assault and financial fraud.

In December of that year — one month before the associationbegan work on the code — Indiana pastor Vaughn Reeveswas sentenced to 54 years in prison after stealing roughly $6 million from investors in a church construction scheme.

“The fact that a person has a degree from a theology school is no guarantee of wisdom,” saidLuder Whitlock, chairman of the 13-member committee that drafted the code and is a past president of the Reformed Theological Seminary network.

The national association includes more than 45,000 churches and 40 denominations, and officials expect most of the membership to sign in support of the code. The organization’s website shows only a couple of dozen pastors who have signed since its formal release June 13, but Mr. Anderson said a few hundred member churches agreed to support the code before its release.

Among the early signers are some of the biggest names in the evangelical movement, including Rick Warren, pastor of Southern California’s Saddleback Church, and Bill Hybels, pastor of the hugeWillow Creek Community Church outside Chicago.

There are English- and Spanish-language versions of the code, which covers topics such as sexual conduct, financial management and health.

 Mr. Anderson said that the pastoral code of ethics did not spring from any specific instance of misconduct. Even so, he said, there is a need for a uniform policy that ties all pastors to a single professional standard.

He said that while some individual churches already have endorsed a similar code of ethics, 71 percent of churches do not.

Moreover, some pastors have chosen to support the code precisely because it serves, at least indirectly, as a rebuke to religious leaders involved in unethical episodes.

“There’s a need that we’re reminded of when we see pastors living unethical lives,” said Joel Hunter, a Florida pastor who was one of the first to sign the code of ethics. “We want to raise the level of accountability because apparently some pastors believe they’re a law unto themselves.

“I want there to be a response to those pastors that have lived unethically. I want to say, ‘We’re not them,’ ” he added.

Mr. Whitlock said he hopes the principles in the document will serve as reminders particularly for younger pastors.

“When we see people involved in things that are dishonest or fallacious, it’s good for everybody to have a reminder,” he said. “And these guides never hurt any of us.”

In addition to basic ethical principles, the four-page code of ethics touches on modern issues such as plagiarism, confidentiality and interactions with other churches, which at times can be ambiguous for pastors. Advice on how to approach mandatory reporting laws, which often require pastors to disclose information about domestic or sexual abuse, is also included.

Mr. Anderson said the National Association of Evangelicals is planning to create a similar ethical code for church congregations that will outline proper conduct for members of a church as well as the clergy members who assist the pastor. Mr. Anderson gave no timeline for the next code, but said that a committee that will draft it is being formed.

– washington times

Folks in Heaven

June 29, 2012 by  
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heaven gate
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp–
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbour
Who never said anything nice.

Bob, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloudnine,
Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
God must’ve made a mistake.

‘And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.’
‘Hush, child,’ He said,
‘they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you..’


Remember…Just going to church doesn’t make you a
Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a mechanic.

Every saint has a PAST…
Every sinner has a FUTURE!

Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil…
It has no point!

fwd: allen johannes

Church in Sudanese capital flattened by authorities

June 29, 2012 by  
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Church of Saint John KhartoumSudan, June 28, 2012: A church in the capital of Sudan was bulldozed by the authorities as the government pushes forward its plans for a strengthened Islamic state following the country’s split from the South.
The Episcopal Parish Church of Saint John was demolished without warning by the local authority’s Ministry of Planning and Housing, flanked by police, on the morning of 18 June.

A number of Christian women who were present pleaded with the authorities to allow them to rescue items of church property from the building; they were permitted to retrieve only a few chairs at the end by which time almost everything had been destroyed.

Two girls and a boy were arrested for taking photos of the incident; they were released later that day.

The reasons given by the authorities for the demolition were that the church had no legal documents or status, and that it belonged to Southerners, who they said should no longer be in the country following the independence of South Sudan.  

The Bishop of Khartoum, the Rt. Revd. Ezekiel Kondo, challenged both of these reasons saying that the government had refused to grant St John’s legal status for the last 25 years – despite several requests from the church – and that it does not, as part of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, whose bishop is Sudanese, belong to Southerners. 

He added:

The authorities do not respect the right of non-Muslims in Sudan… It seems that the policy of Islamic state is being implemented when the president said if South Sudanese vote for secession, there will be but one religion, one language and one culture.

The church demolition was denounced by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), who said in a joint statement that it was the latest in a series of “calculated attacks” on minority communities and Christians in particular.

On 21 April, a church and Bible School compound in Khartoum was destroyed in a fire. Two days later, security forces occupied the premises of the Sudan Council of Churches andSudan Aid in Nyala, Dafur, and confiscated property.

The WCC and AACC warned that Christian converts from a Muslim background in Sudanwere being targeted and having their property – and even their spouses – taken from them.

They added:

We express our fears that all these events may not be isolated but rather calculated attacks on Sudanese civilians who are not of the Muslim faith, and their property in Khartoum, and in particular Christians.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has repeatedly stated his intention to strengthen sharia lawin Sudan, which is 98% Muslim, after the South seceded.

People of Southern origin, who are mainly Christian and mainly African, remaining in the North after the split were stripped of their citizenship and given a deadline to leave Sudan.

It is estimated that 260,000 people remain stranded without the resources to relocate to South Sudan. Many are living in makeshift shelters on the outskirts of Khartoum in an ever perilous situation.

– barnabas team

Goa Church asks BJP government to be humane

June 29, 2012 by  
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Goa Church asks govt to be humaneGoa, June 28, 2012: The recruitment and offer letters were given to 200 selected candidates.

Panaji: The Goa Church today asked the state government to recruit 200 field supervisors whose pre-election recruitment has caused a row.

The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), the social arm of the Goa archdiocese, asked the Bharatiya Janata Party government to show a “humane consideration” and appoint the supervisors in its mining and geology department.

The recruitment has created a row as the candidates were appointed by the former Congress-led government on the eve of the assembly polls held in March.

CSJP secretary Fr. Maverick Fernandes, in a letter to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, said, he denial of jobs to the candidates amounted to the violation of human rights.

“Several of the recruits after receiving the ‘Offer of Appointment’ have quit their earlier secure jobs to report for duty,” he said, adding many have families who depend on their income.

“This becomes a human rights issue as it amounts to denial of a sustainable livelihood for no fault of theirs,” the priest said.

Fr. Maverick said the recruited candidates satisfied the necessary requirements and that the previous government had followed proper hiring processes.

Amid allegations of sheltering illegal mining and deliberately weakening the mining and geology department, former chief minister Digambar Kamat had hurriedly announced the recruitment of 230 field supervisors for the mining department in February.

The recruitment and offer letters were given to 200 selected candidates.

The new government initiated a vigilance probe into the jobs by the mines and other departments as well.

Official sources say the vigilance probe was in the last stage of completion.

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